It all started with a request from Marjorie Handbury, an RA who lived in Freeman Hall. She approached Gaspard Louis, then a business major and co-president of the Martial Arts Club, and asked him to give a self-defense presentation to the students on her floor. He did, and she, a dance major, asked if he’d be interested in helping her out with her senior thesis. She needed another male dancer to make her performance complete. Gaspard originally declined, having had no dance training, but she asked again and he agreed. That agreement turned out to be a life-changing decision. He loved the experience and became a dance minor.
That dance minor soon became a dance major for Gaspard, who found encouragement and inspiration within the department. He recalls Lori Katterhenry as a particularly encouraging professor. She gave him the confidence to become a dance major. Gaspard didn’t tell his parents about his major change until graduation, out of fear they’d disapprove.
He proved that it was a sound decision, though, when he received a scholarship to study dance in Chicago, followed by another to study in New York City. He went on to dance with All Nations Dance, a New York-based dance company. From there, he spent ten years with Pilobolus, a world-renowned dance company. He traveled the world with Pilobolus and crafted friendships that have lasted a lifetime.
Back to the New York area, he became a banker at Chase Bank for a few years before moving to Durham, North Carolina to teach Creole at Duke University. Today, he continues to live and work there. He owns and operates Gaspard and Dancers, his own dance company. He is also the Creative Movement Director for the American Dance Festival, a position that allows him to work with underprivileged children by teaching them how to enjoy dance and choreography as an art form. This is a rewarding position for Gaspard, who hopes to inspire others the way he was inspired.
“Follow your dream, be true to yourself and the art, and always have a back-up plan!” he advises current Montclair State students. Gaspard’s success came from following his passion and he hopes to instill this value in his own students.